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Jayalalithaa promises to waive farm loans

Special Correspondent

She also promises to write off interest arrears, if voted to power AIADMK will also write off interest arrears, if voted to power



SEEKING VOTES: The campaign van of Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa being swarmed by supporters near the Srirangam temple on Thursday. — Photo: M. Moorthy

TIRUCHI: The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, has announced that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), if voted to power, would write off all cooperative farm loans along with interest arrears.

"We will waive the cooperative loans with the help of State resources without expecting any assistance from the anti-farmer Union Government," she asserted while touring the Musiri and Lalgudi constituencies here on Thursday.

Persistent demand

The AIADMK Government had been continuously impressing upon the Union Government to write off the cooperative loans. The State had pressed the demand even in its recent request for flood relief. However, the Congress-led government, in which the DMK was a constituent, turned a deaf ear to the plea.

Though the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had promised, in its election manifesto in 1996, to give credit relief to farmers, the party failed to fulfil the promise. The DMK was holding out many such impractical promises even now.

Farmers benefit

The AIADMK, on coming to power in 2001, ordered the waiver of all outstanding interest arrears and penal interest as on June 30, 2000. Between 2001 and 2006, her Government had waived the interest and penal interest on cooperative loans apart from reducing the interest rates and re-scheduling of the loans. Farmers of the State have benefited to the tune of Rs.1,160 crore through these measures.

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which extends re-finance to the cooperative banks, has been insisting on initiating distraint proceedings against farmers who had defaulted on repaying their crop loans.

But the AIADMK Government did not do so and instead announced the interest waiver. The Government went ahead with the move despite objections from the Reserve Bank of India too.

Terrorism contained

The AIADMK regime has strengthened the country's sovereignty by putting down terrorism and separatism, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said.

"Unlike during the DMK regime when violence was the order of the day, we have made Tamil Nadu a haven of peace. We have also put an end to the rowdy samraj and firmly established that everyone was equal before the law," she said during an election tour of Tiruchi district here on Thursday.

The State had also become the favoured destination for investment by various multinational companies. Her government had delivered the goods despite heavy odds of inheriting an "empty coffer" and successive natural calamities such as drought, tsunami and floods. Besides, the AIADMK government had to contend with an "uncooperative" Union Government which accorded a step-motherly treatment to the State and the "obstacles created by the selfish" Union Ministers from the State, she alleged and added that she was able to overcome all these obstacles with the support of the people.

Lists schemes

Appealing to the electorate to renew their mandate to enable her continue the good work, Ms. Jayalalithaa listed the "successful schemes" of her Government including the Uzhavar Padukappu Thittam, distribution of free textbooks and cycles to students, free farm power, wasteland development, interest and penal interest waiver on crop loans, weavers insurance, upgrading of primary health centres into 30-bed hospitals and the annadhanam programme. In Tiruchi district, about 2.42 lakh farmers were issued identity cards under the Uzhavar Padukappu Thittam and thousands of the members were given various benefits to the tune of Rs. 3.67 crore under the scheme. Addressing a meeting in front of the Rajagopuram of the Ranganthaswamy Temple at Srirangam, where she was accorded a tumultuous reception by a large number of party cadres, Ms. Jayalalithaa said over four lakh flood affected residents had been given the flood relief package in Tiruchi district. Over 55,000 farmers had also been distributed relief for crop damages.

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